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Like Sex and Chocolate? Culture, Democracy and the Death of the Arts

Monday, 3 April 2023, 10 – 11am

Like Sex and Chocolate? Culture, Democracy and the Death of the Arts

An in-person lecture by Dr Steven Hadley (TCD) as part of the School of Creative Arts Research Forum.

People working in the cultural sector tell stories. They tell each other stories, they tell themselves stories, and they tell their citizens stories. Indeed, our institutions, structures and policies are based on stories – Lyotardian ‘grand narratives’ – that inform thought, belief and action. The defining crisis of cultural policy has resulted from attempts to combine, articulate and actualise elements of one story in particular – the story of democracy and culture. There is an implicit theoretical relationship between public cultural subsidy and the broadening or democratising of access. Yet consumption of subsidised arts and culture remains heavily socially stratified, and there are significant issues across race, class and gender in the mechanisms of exclusion from cultural occupations. Whilst, as Hadley and Belfiore (2018, p. 218) note, ‘It is the vanity of every age to consider itself in crisis’, there remains a serious question as to whether the policy model of ‘the democratisation of culture’ has failed. The democratisation of culture refers to processes where the ‘official’ culture, typically represented by large and well-funded arts institutions, is made accessible to non-participating communities, often in the belief that it will ‘do them good’. Embedded within this model are vocational occupations - such as those in the arts – that are attractive not so much for their material rewards as for the prestige and ‘psychic income’ (Menger, 1999) they confer. Articulating how art and culture can be realigned with a transformative politics of social value would require the development of new models of culture value which move away from econometrics focused on outputs and production, and significant (r)evolution in the way in which we understand ‘creativity’ as an element of the civic and social sphere.

Steven Hadley is an academic, consultant and researcher working internationally in arts management, cultural policy and audience engagement. He is currently a Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin and a Visiting Lecturer at Leuphana University of Lüneburg (Germany). He previously held research posts at the universities of Galway, Sheffield, Hull and Kings College London. Steven is an Associate Consultant with the Audience Agency, Counterculture and CKI Denmark and sits on the Steering Committee of the Cultural Research Network and the Editorial Board of Arts and the Market. He is also Policy & Reviews Editor for Cultural Trends. Steven has lectured, taught and delivered training in over thirty countries globally and works as a consultant for a wide range of cultural organisations. His recent published work has focussed on cultural democracy and audience engagement. His monograph, Audience Development and Cultural Policy, is published by Palgrave MacMillan.

The School of Creative Arts Research Forum meets weekly on Mondays from 10am-11am in the Neill Lecture Theatre in Trinity Long Room Hub. The aim of the Forum is to provide a space for School researchers, both staff and postgraduate students, to share their ideas in an informal and supportive environment. It is also an opportunity for the School to hear about the research of colleagues both from within TCD and from outside the university who share our research interests. In line with the research agenda of the School, talks encompass traditional research and practice-based research.

Please indicate if you have any access requirements, such as ISL/English interpreting, so that we can facilitate you in attending this event. Contact:

Campus LocationTrinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute
Accessibility: Yes
Room: Neill Lecture Theatre
Research Theme: Creative Arts Practice
Event Category: Lectures and Seminars, Public
Type of Event: One-time event
Audience: Postgrad, Faculty & Staff, Public
Cost: Free
Contact Name: Dr Scotty McQueen

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